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Hastings sale amended to exclude Australian assets

Northill will now only acquire the firm’s UK and US-based businesses in the latest setback for owner Westpac.

A deal agreed last month for UK-based asset manager Northill Capital to buy Australian infrastructure fund manager Hastings has been changed to exclude the group’s Australia-based assets.

Northill will now only take on Hastings’ assets based in the UK and the US under the amended deal, which is its first in the infrastructure sector. These include UK rolling stock group Porterbrook, a 41-mile Texan toll road, Northern Ireland-based gas distribution company Phoenix Natural Gas, UK utility South East Water and US-based gas-fired plant operator Southwest Generation.

It means assets that Northill had hoped to acquire under the original deal such as Melbourne Airport, Perth Airport and Transgrid will remain with Hastings owner Westpac for the foreseeable future.

“Westpac and Northill have entered into a definitive agreement in relation to the sale and purchase of the international businesses of Hastings managed out of the United Kingdom and United States,” the pair stated. “Westpac has confirmed that the Hastings Australian business will continue to fulfil its contractual obligations to all clients.”

The duo did not expand on reasons for the terms of the deal being amended, although a source told Infrastructure Investor that it was restructured following the management rights being put to tender by the Hastings-managed Utilities Trust of Australia fund, something that was said to be anticipated when the original deal was agreed.

There is said to have been widespread disappointment among UTA investors with the management of Hastings by Westpac, which has included two previous botched sale attempts and numerous staff exits over the past two years.

“Our focus at the moment is very much to stabilise the business, given investors have very justifiable concerns after what has been a very long-winded and disruptive sale process,” Ryan Sinnott, director of strategy at Northill, told Infrastructure Investor last month.